Your Guide to Skincare Must-Haves
Whether you're new to skincare, or a veteran to a 10-step routine, there is no denying there are certain products that won't let you down when it comes to giving your skin the results you seek. I consider the steps in this guide to be non-negotiable skincare, and a good foundation for those who aren't sure of what their regimen needs to consist of on a daily basis. So let's jump right in and discuss the morning and nighttime routine.
AM Routine Must-Haves
The AM routine is more important than you may think and should consist of more than a splash of water as a cleanse followed by a moisturizer. Think of your morning routine as the time to protect the skin. Every day the skin is exposed to environmental elements and pollutants that damage and age the skin. Even in the comfort of your own home, these factors come into play.
Start the morning off with a gentle cleanse to set the foundation for your morning skincare routine. Our skin is in a regenerative phase overnight, but there are also natural excretions, such as sweat and oil on the skin in the morning, as well as last night's skincare. A cleansing lotion is the perfect go-to for dry and sensitive skin types such as Environ's Cleansing Lotion. In contrast, a gel cleanser is ideal for combo to oily skin types, such as iS Clinical's Cleansing Complex.
A skincare staple to include AM is a vitamin C serum. This clinically proven ingredient is a daytime staple for its powerful antioxidant protection against free radicals and environmental aggressors. Today, vitamin C formulas go beyond a single component and are often rich in vitamins, peptides, and more. Apart from protecting the skin against the elements, you can expect this hero product to protect against UV-induced sun damage, brighten and even skin tone, and reduce pigmentation and inflammation.
A favourite for acne-prone, sensitive, or flushed skin is iS Clinical Pro-Health Serum Advance+, whereas those with concerns such as fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, and uneven tone will love Super Serum Advance+. Other favourites for all skin types include Jan Marini C-Esta Face Serum (also great for brightening), and 111SKIN NAC Y2 Pollution Defence Booster which contains a signature formula for optimal environmental defense.
Lastly, if you're not wearing sunscreen daily, and I mean every single day of the year, you are seriously accelerating the aging process and increasing the risk of skin cancer. In fact, 90% of premature aging is due to UV exposure. This is mainly due to UVA rays expediting the aging process and damaging the skin's integrity and DNA. Worse of all, UVA rays are potent year-round regardless of the weather forecast. Your best defense? Sunscreen.
There's no excuse for skipping this step. The number of sunscreen options available today is endless, and even my online shop offers a variety of finishes and textures. So no matter what your skin type or condition, there is something you will love.
PM Routine Must-Haves
Your nighttime skincare routine is a must. At night, your skin enters a regenerative phase, and intense repair and cellular regeneration occur. The skin is also more permeable, so your PM skincare routine will quite literally feed the skin ingredients to soak up overnight. This is the perfect time to apply active and performance-driven skincare to help treat common skin conditions such as acne, aging, and pigmentation.
First, the double cleanse. This skincare commandment should be followed daily and will set the foundation for optimal skincare penetration, improving overall results. Your first cleanse should be an oil-based cleanser. This will effectively wash the day away and break down and remove daily exposures (dirt and debris), skincare excretions (oil and sweat), skincare, and sunscreen. Remember that "like attracts like," so this step will also help balance the skin for those who have excess oiliness. A cult-favourite is the budget-friendly Living Libations Seabuckthorn which works for all skin types.
If wearing makeup, you may find this step needs to be repeated. You'd be surprised by how many people still have makeup residual sitting on their skin after a double-cleanse, and oil-based cleansers are very effective at breaking down makeup.
The second cleanse is water-based, usually a gel or lotion cleanser. This will effectively cleanse the skin's surface, remove any residual, improve overall skin condition, reduce pore buildup, and improve product penetration. You may opt to use your usual AM cleanser for this step, or if you wish you may have a few different cleansers in rotation that you select based on how the skin is feeling.
Your nighttime routine is where your skincare actives live, such as mixed fruit acids, AHAs, BHAs, and retinol. The reason to apply them at night is to aid in the skin's regeneration while also protecting the skin from photosensitivity. A pro tip is not to overdo the actives. This is a step where more isn't necessarily better, and while skin can acclimatize over time, it's recommended to start with one active product before graduating to possibly layering them.
A cult-favourite amongst clients with concerns including aging, blemishes, texture, and pigmentation is iS Clinical Active Serum which includes a blend of glycolic, salicylic, and lactic acid. Or if you haven't already, incorporating a retinol is highly recommended as it helps to address multiple skin concerns, prevent and correct signs of aging, and improves skin overall integrity.
About two to three nights per week, I recommend including a micro exfoliant into your PM routine. Rather than using a physical exfoliant, such as a scrub, I prefer acidic or enzymatic exfoliants as they're gentler on the skin while still highly effective. In addition to seriously upgrading your weekly routine, regular exfoliation will improve some of the most common skin concerns, including uneven skin tone, texture, blackheads, fine lines & wrinkles, and lackluster skin.
A client favourite is Environ Hydrating Clay Masque which works beautifully on all skin types. For those concerned with signs of aging, texture, and uneven skin tone, you must try Environ TriBiobotanical Revival Masque. Also known as facelift in a jar, this masque includes a blend of three acids to revitalize the skin.
Lastly, feeding the skin hydration is vital in the PM to help accelerate repair while defending against TEWL (transepidermal water loss - when moisture is pulled from the skin). This is especially true in Canada, where we naturally deal with a drier indoor climate year-round. Therefore, opting for a richer nighttime moisturizer is highly beneficial at sealing your PM routine while nourishing the skin. When it comes to hydration, look no further than Forlle'd, a Japanese skincare line that is the queen of hydration with a Nobel-Prize winning ultra-low molecular weight hyaluronic acid that penetrates deep within the skin. A client favourite is Forlle'd Nourhsing Cream, which boasts a pillowy texture without feeling too heavy on the skin, and is perfect for all skin types (and may be used AM as well for normal to dry skin types).
Remember this: consistency is key. You get two opportunities to treat the skin per day, so don't take them for granted. Healthy glowing skin thrives on consistency, and while sticking to some of the tips shared today will greatly benefit the skin, the most crucial factor in reaching your skin goals will also rely on choosing the right products for YOUR skin. So if you're not sure where to start, book a facial. After all, it is the other 20%, and I promise you'll love the results.